Men Aren’t “Boys,” so Why Are Women Called “Girls”?

Have you ever heard a man refer to himself as a “big boy”? I’m betting not. Now take a second and think if you’ve ever heard a man or, worse, a woman referring to a woman as a “big girl.”  I’m betting yes. Why the difference?

Men rarely ever reference themselves in a fashion that detracts from their manhood. The last time a man in your life was going through a rough situation, did he ever declare, “I’m a big boy! I’ll get through it!” I somehow doubt it.

I’m a big girl, dammit!

Yet, turn on practically any episode of “The Bachelorette” and listen to both the male contestants and the bachelorette herself refer to her as a “big girl.”

“I’m a big girl. I can handle myself.”

“She’s a big girl. She knows what she’s doing.”

Here’s the promo for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s show “Ringer.” In it, SMG’s character refers to herself as a girl. (Go to :24 in the video.) Now, all due respect to the wonderful SMG, but you’re 36 years old. You’re married with two kids. Celebrate those milestones! Couldn’t you have mentioned to the writers (or couldn’t the writers have thought for themselves) that declaring, “You have the wrong woman” would work just fine?

And, of course, there’s Lena Dunham’s lauded “Girls.” While it’s true that some of the females on the show act in a childish fashion, they also engage in some very adult activities. But, I suppose calling the show “Women” or “Ladies” just doesn’t have enough appeal.

How about when women reference a girls’ night out? Nope, ladies, sorry. Your evening plans usually entail drinking alcohol, which girls aren’t allowed to drink, let alone purchase. Your fun times may happen in a bar or other adult establishment, where girls can’t go. It may last into the wee hours of the morn, when girls should be sound asleep in their own beds. So, no, ladies, have your ladies night out, but leave the girls to their sleep-overs and Disney channel marathons.

We live in a world where women are inundated with images and language that encourage, cajole, and pressure us to infantalize ourselves. Look younger! Dress younger! Be younger! Why celebrate womanhood when that makes you old, boring and undesirable? Be a girl and stay young, interesting and desirable forever!

strong women

Well, enough. I say “woman” isn’t a dirty word. It’s a badge of honor. It means you’ve grown, lived, experienced and, hopefully, flourished. It should be empowering to call youself “a woman”! Men don’t refer to themselves as children. It’s time for women to stop referring to themselves as female children and start embracing who they are and what they’ve been through and what they’ve accomplished to become WOMEN.

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2 thoughts on “Men Aren’t “Boys,” so Why Are Women Called “Girls”?

  1. Excellent. Call me a woman any day over the silly term girl. Girl is a child or someone a bit slow/dumb/useless. Lady sounds like an old person with delicate ways. Woman is someone who can stand on her own feet, an equal – me! I can’t stand being called a girl, especially in a professional setting. I’m not a child and “hey maybe you could use my name”.

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